Author: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
Rating: Sanderson strikes again, but this time with a fantastically over the top female MC, a mysterious sci-fi setting, and a snarky, mushroom obsessed AI.
Stars: 5 stars
I had no idea what to expect from a YA science fiction story from Brandon Sanderson, who is best known for wildly epic adult fantasy (go read Mistborn and Stormlight Archive RIGHT NOW!). I should have known that I would end up loving this book as much as I have with every other Sanderson book I’ve read. With a strong female lead, a wildly mysterious world, and epic dogfighting scences, Skyward stands up to the epic fantasy tomes that we’ve come to expect from Sanderson.
Sanderson’s strengths lie in world and character building. His prose is very straight forward and almost dry at times, but he manages to draw you in with exquisitely realized worlds and characters, that no matter how well or little they are developed, you can’t help but love or loathe. I’ve never known another author who could build such an in depth world without dragging down the pace of the story. I honestly think Sanderson is a wizard.
The main character, Spensa Nightshade (call sign: Spin), is filled with a righteous determination to prove herself and become the greatest pilot in the Defiant Defense Force. She has the world’s biggest chip on her shoulder from the mysterious defection of her father from the DDF and her society labeling her a daughter of a coward. Her grandmother has filled her head with heroic stories from Earth and it leads to some of the most fantastically ferocious battle speech from Spensa. As ridiculous as Spensa can be at times, she is a wonderfully human main character and even though I don’t share many of her qualities, I found myself relating to her in many ways.
The rest of the characters are developed to varying degrees, but as I said earlier, you still can’t help but feel emotions towards them. My favorite character is the one I won’t talk about because it’s mildly spoiler-y. But you’ll know who it is when you read the book. I was convinced there would be a romance in this story, but I was happy things didn’t go fully that way. I like romance in books, but it doesn’t always have to be there. The friendships that grows between Spensa and her flight mates is the heart of the book.
What I really loved was the mystery in the story. It is clear from the get-go that something is off about the DDF and the story of how the humans came to be trapped on their world. There are many twists and turns, and the final one is something I never saw coming. It sets up for what I’m sure will be a very interesting sequel. I cannot wait for Starsight, which is sure to be another stellar Sanderson story.